A Dylan Cover A Day: I don’t believe you

By Tony Attwood

I do recognise that as, at the moment I am not writing a new episode of A Dylan Cover a Day the title has become somewhat inappropriate – but then changing the title to A Dylan Cover Every Week or So would seem a bit naff, so I am sticking with the original in the vague hope that the level of work I’m trying to do at the moment will reduce and I can return, if not to a cover a day, then maybe a cover every other day.

And of course there is the excuse that there are now quite a few episodes of this little series and you may not have appreciated every recording within it so there is a back catalogue, as it were.  A list is at the end.

“I don’t believe you” is not a highly covered song, and it is one of those pieces that is so individual in terms of its opening phrases with its extraordinary rhythm around “I can’t understand she let go of my hand” that makes it hard to think of any major variation from the original.

In case you have any interest in terms of what Dylan does musically it goes something like this: “I can’t understand she let go of my hand” has 16 fast beats which are basically in two groups of eight, with each group of eight divided into a rhythm of 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2.   The “1” in each group having an accent.

But it is sung at speed we hear it as a complete flowing line, and I gues for most people it is not until you come to play it with an accompaniment that it becomes clear how the only alternatives are to play it as per Dylan, or to re-write it so completely that it doesn’t sound like the same song in any way, and actually sounds far less than Dylan’s version.

This certainly didn’t stop Bob performing it – around 350 times – but it makes life hard for anyone seeking a variation.

Waylong Jennings turns it into a country song and forgets the rhythm of the original and goes into a straight 4/4 times.  It is typical of the solutions, and it makes the song a fair bit less bland than the original.

And that version is typical of most.  It is a hard search to find artists willing to accept the essence of the song is within the rhythm.  Ian and Sylvia do take the song as it is and full credit to them and their band for taking it on.   I find the opening of each verse a little too twinkly for my taste, but knowing the complexity of the piece, I give them full credit.  The bassist in particular has worked a way of making this happen so that the ensemble has something to hold onto.

There are a number of non-English language versions, but again they either wipe out the rhythm, which is the essence of the song, or simply do it like Dylan, which I guess is ok since they have translated the song for their local audience.  Such recordings are not intended for English speakers, so one can’t criticise.

But Larholm Wik and Rydstrom do break through this boundary in my view.

If you are interested in this band, of which I can discover little beyond the fact that the album containing this track is on Spotify (at least if you have an account, not sure if it is available on the free version) and the whole album is really interesting even though I don’t speak Swedish.  But it does seem the guys came together to make this album as a one off and that was it.   If that is the case, all I can say is I am rather pleased they did.

The details of “Cover a day” follow after this little note about Untold Dylan….

Untold Dylan was created in 2008 and is currently published twice a day –  sometimes more, sometimes less.  Details of some of our series are given at the top of the page and in the Recent Posts list, which appears both on the right side of the page and at the very foot of the page (helpful if you are reading on a phone).  Some of our past articles which form part of a series are also included on the home page.

Articles are written by a variety of volunteers and you can read more about them here    If you would like to write for Untold Dylan, do email with your idea or article to Tony@schools.co.uk.  Our readership is rather large (many thanks to Rolling Stone for help in that regard). Details of some of our past articles are also included on the home page.

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